The S24 Preview: Leeds United v Southend United
Three points from safety, eight successive away defeats, a limited squad to choose from, can't be sure of being paid on time, 20,000-plus Yorkshireman screaming at you; no worries then for the tough trip to Elland Road, Saturday, April 10th, kick-off 15.00. v SHRIMPERS 15Yeovil Town 40866322436111530111217475445-716Hartlepool United 4085726244412253612919516045-917Exeter City 40884271826121535101416425344-1118Gillingham 401073291106141340101317425143-919Oldham Athletic 39668192354101425111018334843-1520Leyton Orient 40767292435121735101119465941-1321Tranmere Rovers 399382528251293511820346341-2922Southend United 4069525233215193891120446138-17It's always worth looking at; one win, even a point, and we'll back in the hunt with two home games in a week, another away defeat and thta's five games left.Though when we had three home games in a week, we only picked up five points when seven or nine were needed, it could all be over before May and Southampton.It would help of course, at Elland Road, if we had a midfield, the loss of both Macca and the Moose is horrible; the injuries to Scannell and Spencer just adding to the gloom.Leeds may have got their mojo back in Somerset which adds to Shrimper problems.I would start O'Keefe and Crawford in Yorkshire, why not? The spirit of youth and all that, but probably Tilly will keep the same elven that started the woeful performance at Gillingham, with Paterson starting instead of Spencer.Can we get anything out of this?Of course we can. Sport is sport. However, the heads have been down over the last two games, and who can blame them; we need a bit of luck, a fluckey touch from a corner going in (see Grayson below for Leeds at Yeovil), and then Mildy having the game of his life! And a lot of praying!COME ON YOU BLUES!!!!!Possible Southend United: Mildenhall, Francis, Baldwin, Barrett, Herd, Laurent, Christophe, Grant, Vernon, Patterson, Malone.Subs: Jack, Sankofa, M'Voto, O'Keefe, Crawford. OPPOSITION Leeds may start with Luciano Becchio at the weekend. The striker has missed the last two games after suffering concussion at Norwich.Talented forward Gary McSheffrey is fit and could also return.Both left-sided player Aidy White and defender Ben Parker came through a reserve game on Wednesday, and will be pushing for a place in the squad.Tresor Kandol serves the third game of his four match suspension.Patrick Kisnorbo and Jason Crowe are definitely out through injury for the rest of the season.Latest match Tuesday,6th April 2010PldHomeAwayOverallPtsEPWDLFAWDLFAWDLFA1Norwich City 4016224519105536232677814285+392Swindon Town 4012623721974272421136644576+193Millwall 4014513912776272521127663775+294Leeds United 40116333171055312021118643774+275Charlton Athletic 4012623921884272420146664574+216Huddersfield Town 40118145188392329191110684768+217Colchester United 40134332205782525181111574565+12Last Time Out - Yeovil Town 1 Leeds United 2 (played on Monday, April 5th.)The fate of the last Leeds United manager to lose five successive games is no secret. Gary McAllister was the unfortunate victim of that downward spiral in December of 2008; the price, his job.His successor, Simon Grayson, stood on the cusp of identical form yesterday but United's players rallied to protect him at Huish Park, conjuring an essential win which offered Grayson breathing space and lifted a dark cloud from the club's season.At no stage prior to United's game against Yeovil Town had the board at Elland Road indicated that the future of United's manager would depend on the result in Somerset - Grayson described his most recent discussion with chairman Ken Bates as "very positive" - but a fifth defeat in as many matches might have left Grayson fearing a knock at his door. Unpredictable though the strategy of changing managers can be, it is a well-trodden route for clubs in peril. United were that club after their depressing loss to Swindon Town on Saturday but hope springs eternal, generated at last by a victory of the utmost importance. A draw in Somerset was of no tangible value to Leeds or their manager, a small step forward at a time when giant strides are needed. Their defeat of Yeovil kept automatic promotion in view with six games to play, a defiant gesture to those who were resigning Leeds to the play-offs.The inspiration that Grayson has been searching for without success came at Huish Park from an unlikely but influential source, the club's captain Richard Naylor. The centre-back was a striker in his formative years and that hidden talent showed itself as two headed chances brought him two goals in the space of six first-half minutes. It was a match-winning performance from a player whose Yorkshire roots will have seen him suffer as greatly as any of United's players while the club's season decayed.The effect of that decay was underlined by the presence of Leeds in fourth position in League One before this match, their second fixture in swift succession. But the risk of panic setting in subsided in Somerset, the best possible end to an Easter weekend which asked much of Leeds physically and mentally.United's squad had fewer than 48 hours to digest their defeat to Swindon and prepare for Yeovil and Grayson gave careful thought to his strategy at Huish Park, wary of exhausted legs and minds.In the end he settled on only two changes, dropping Mike Grella and Shane Lowry to make way for Max Gradel and Leigh Bromby.Gradel for Grella was a straight swap - an inspired one as it turned out - but Bromby's appearance at right-back required the ever-versatile Andrew Hughes to revert to the left-side of defence, another attempt by Grayson's to restore stability to his team. His tactics worked as intended, despite a spell of horrible tension in the final 25 minutes of the game.Thoughts of the pressing job in hand were suspended once more for the length of a minute's silence in memory of Christoper Loftus and Kevin Speight, the United supporters murdered in Istanbul a decade ago. As promised, the club's following at Huish Park turned their backs on the pitch for the first 60 seconds of the game, a protest against the continuing absence of acceptable justice for their fellow fans. The demonstration was carried out to a man.It concluded in time for the crowd behind Shane Higgs' goal to see United's goalkeeper turn behind a shot from Terrell Forbes, the first exchange of the afternoon in the fifth minute. Forbes has scored only once in more than 10 years as a professional footballer, and a goal from the centre-back would have summed up perfectly the corner that Leeds were trapped in.Higgs' reaction was routine, a situation he ought to have dealt with, but Alex McCarthy produced a more anxious parry at the other end of the field with 17 minutes played. Yeovil's goalkeeper dropped to his right to meet a Robert Snodgrass strike with both hands, palming the ball behind. Snodgrass had been the most likely threat before then, dropping a lob onto the roof of McCarthy's net after turning quickly inside the box.His sporadic efforts were symptomatic of a measured start in which neither team cut loose. Higgs palmed down a volley from Gavin Tomlin and watched a header from Steven Caulker sink into his side-netting; Neill Collins, meanwhile, was the recipient of the first booking when he lost a yard on Tomlin and dragged the striker to the ground.In those circumstances, the strange nature of Naylor's first goal in the 29th minute was almost appropriate.United's captain met a delivery from Jonathan Howson with a header at the back post which appeared to be an attempt to play the ball back across goal. McCarthy anticipated that and was badly out of position when Naylor's touch drifted over his head and dropped into the net before Craig Alcock could clear it. If his finish was at all fortuitous, Naylor did not care. He peeled away with a clenched fist, well aware of the importance of United's lead and the opportunity it offered. The positive effect on the players around him was staggering. Twice in two minutes, Beckford failed to convert inviting chances and McCarthy repelled a stinging shot from the excellent Gradel with one hand. His save was rendered worthless when Naylor struck for a second time, 10 minutes before the interval.The centre-back timed his run to meet a Neil Kilkenny corner and McCarthy had no argument with the clinical header which flew across him with perfect accuracy. Grayson suddenly found himself sitting on his first victory for four weeks. "Naylor's on a hat-trick," was the away end's chant in a precious moment of delight. He almost completed it when his header from another Kilkenny corner bounced a foot beyond McCarthy's goal at the start of the second half, deceiving the keeper again. A third goal would have given Yeovil no chance of a reprieve, though their struggle to escape their own half made a fightback wholly unlikely.The main barrage came at McCarthy, who dealt with shots from Beckford, Snodgrass and Gradel and saw Naylor, his nemesis for the day, force a goalline clearance from Craig Davies, the chance gifted to United's captain by a defence incapable of managing set-pieces. A flick from Kilkenny was also hacked away desperately as Leeds threatened to swamp their hosts.But in the thick of the onslaught, Yeovil found inspiration of their own on 65 minutes when Dean Bowditch skipped away from Naylor and cut a shot across Higgs at the end of their first fluent attack of the half. From then on United hovered on the edge, holding their breath when Michael Doyle's mis-hit clearance allowed Shaun MacDonald to lash a shot over Higgs' crossbar. The margin of inaccuracy was far smaller when Tomlin's header from Andrew Welsh's corner deflected wide by a matter of inches.It was, in a sense, a defining period of United's season, the frantic defence of a victory that Grayson's players could not contemplate surrendering. Their campaign seemed to rest on it and the ecstatic reaction at full-time told its own story.Yeovil Town: McCarthy, Alcock, Caulker, Forbes, Smith, Davies (Welsh 64), Williams, Kalala, MacDonald, Tomlin, Bowditch. Subs (not used): Jones, Murtagh, Martin, Murray, Downes, Hutchins.Leeds United: Higgs, Bromby, Naylor, Collins, Hughes, Howson, Doyle, Kilkenny (Johnson 88), Snodgrass, Gradel, Beckford (Watt 89). Subs (not used): Ankergren, Dickov, Grella, Parker, Lowry.Referee: K Wright (Cambridgeshire).Attendance: 6,308.(Report supplied by www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk)PREVIOUSLYAt Leeds Utd. (4)At Southend Utd. (4)ResultsTotal%ResultsTotal%Leeds Utd.375.00Southend Utd.250.00Southend Utd.125.00Leeds Utd.00.00Draws00.00Draws250.00GoalsTotalAv.pgGoalsTotalAv.pgLeeds Utd.92.25Southend Utd.30.75Southend Utd.41.00Leeds Utd.10.25On Neutral Ground (0)Overall (8 matches)ResultsTotal%ResultsTotal%Leeds Utd.00.00Leeds Utd.337.50Southend Utd.00.00Southend Utd.337.50Draws00.00Draws225.00GoalsTotalAv.pgGoalsTotalAv.pgLeeds Utd.00.00Leeds Utd.101.25Southend Utd.00.00Southend Utd.70.88RecordsHighest Aggregate5Leeds Utd. 4 - 1Southend Utd.2007/2008 Highest Leeds Utd. score:4Leeds Utd. 4 - 1Southend Utd.2007/2008 Highest Southend Utd. score:3Leeds Utd. 1 - 3Southend Utd.2006/2007 SeasonDateHomeScoreAwayCompetition 2009/2010Fri 11 SepSouthend Utd.0 - 0Leeds Utd.League One 2008/2009Tue 27 JanLeeds Utd.2 - 0Southend Utd.League One Tue 28 OctSouthend Utd.1 - 0Leeds Utd.League One 2007/2008Tue 29 JanSouthend Utd.1 - 0Leeds Utd.League One Sat 18 AugLeeds Utd.4 - 1Southend Utd.League One 2006/2007Sat 17 MarSouthend Utd.1 - 1Leeds Utd.Championship Sat 28 OctLeeds Utd.2 - 0Southend Utd.Championship Tue 24 OctLeeds Utd.1 - 3Southend Utd.League CupGROUNDThe ground is dominated by the East Stand on one side of the stadium. This huge stand which holds 17,000 supporters was opened in the 1992-93 season, and is at least twice the size of the other three stands at Elland Road. The East Stand is a two tier stand which has a large lower tier of seating with a smaller tier above. In-between the two tiers is a row of executive boxes. The stand is completed by a large imposing roof. The good thing about the rest of the stadium is that it is totally enclosed, with the corners of the ground being filled with seating. The downside is that compared to the East Stand the other stands are looking rather tired and old in comparison. All the remaining stands have a number of supporting pillars and at the back of the West Stand (which was renamed in March 2004, the 'John Charles Stand' in honour of their former great player), there are a number of old wooden seats, which look as if they have been there since the stand was first opened in 1957. This stand also houses the team dugouts and television gantry. There is an electric scoreboard in one corner of the ground between the South & John Charles Stands.Away fans are located in the South East corner of the South Stand at one end of the ground, where up to 1.800 fans can be accommodated. I don't think we have to worry about that but it can be an intimidating atmosphere as DoDtS talks about here: www.thelittlegazette.com/news/loadsngl.asp?cid=EDY3&id=428761(Ground information supplied by www.footballgroundguide.com)WEATHERLovely; Sunny intervals and 16c's.REFThe man in the middle is Eddie Ilderton from Tyne and Wear. He gives an interview here: www.refworld.com/referee/144/1/eddie-ilderton FIXTURESSaturday, April 10th; (all-kick offs 15.00): Brentford v Huddersfield, Brighton v Carlisle, Colchester v Swindon, Exeter v Leyton Orient, Leeds v Southend, Millwall v Gillingham, Norwich v MK Dons, Oldham v Bristol Rovers, Southampton v Charlton, Stockport v Yeovil, Walsall v Tranmere, Wycombe v Hartlepool.Monday, April 12th: Swindon v Exeter, 19.45. Tuesday, April 13th; (all kick-offs 19.45): Bristol Rovers v Southampton, Carlisle v Leeds, Charlton v Colchester, Gillingham v Brighton, Hartlepool v Stockport, Huddersfield v Walsall, Leyton Orient v Norwich, MK Dons v Oldham, Southend v Brentford, Tranmere v Wycombe, Yeovil v Millwall.Friday, 16 April 2010: Huddersfield v Millwall, 19:45. BETLeeds (to win) - 2/5, Draw - 5/2, Southend (to win) - 15/2. For all the footy odds go here: www.oddschecker.com/football/english TRANSPORTBy Train go here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/feat/edw5/southend_united_leeds_450282/index.shtmlBy Car go here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/feat/edw7/southend_united_leeds_450466/index.shtmlBy Coach go here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/feat/edw3/leeds_united_450415/index.shtmlPUB AND PIESFor the best drinking hostelries around, and there's some decent beer to be found close to the rail station in the town centre, go here: www.southendunited-mad.co.uk/feat/edw8/tap_into_the_local_brewery_pub_crawl_in_leeds_514479/index.shtmlHISTORYThe club's home is the Elland Road stadium in Beeston, where they have played since their foundation in 1919.The club's most common nicknames are "Leeds", "United" or "The Whites". Another nickname is "The Peacocks", though this is virtually obsolete. This term stems from the former name of the Elland Road, The Old Peacock Ground, which was in turn named after The Old Peacock pub opposite Elland Road's South Stand. Leeds United's predecessor team Leeds City FC was formed in 1904, but was forcibly disbanded by The Football League in 1919 in response to allegations of illegal payments to players during the First World War. A new club, Leeds United, was formed and the club received an invitation to enter the Midland League from the league secretary, Mr. J Nicholson. Leeds United were voted into the Midland League on 31 October 1919, taking the place vacated by Leeds City Reserves. Yorkshire Amateurs, who occupied Elland Road, offered to make way for the new team under the management of former player Dick Ray. The chairman of Huddersfield Town, Mr. Hilton Crowther loaned Leeds United £35,000, to be repaid when Leeds United won promotion to Division One. He brought Barnsley's manager Arthur Fairclough to Leeds and on 26 February 1920, Dick Ray stepped down to become Fairclough's assistant.On 31 May 1920, Leeds United were elected to the Football League.The club have competed at the top level of English football for the majority of their existence, following the disbanding of predecessor Leeds City. Under the management of Don Revie during the 1960s and 1970s, Leeds won a number of domestic and European trophies. After Revie's departure to manage the England team, Leeds were relegated to the Second Division in 1982, not returning to the top flight until 1990, when they were managed by Howard Wilkinson. Leeds were League Champions two seasons later, in 1992. Following severe financial turmoil, Leeds were relegated to League One for the 2007-08 season. This was the first time the club had dropped below the top two tiers of domestic football in England. Two successive playoff failures see Leeds currently hoping to get out of League 1 at the third time of asking.For the Whites full history, and there's a lot of it, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Leeds_United_A.F.C.
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